Song Critique: “Amarte Duro” by Victor Manuelle & Farruko

Around a month ago, famous Puerto Rican singers Victor Manuelle and Farruko released a song together called “Amarte Duro.” It wasn't until recently when I heard people constantly talking about it that I decided to look up the song and find out what the buzz was all about. I looked it up on YouTube and saw that it had 3.3 million views, so I immediately thought it must be a good song. Around the middle of the song, I heard one of the most horrible, victimizing, sexist lyrics I had ever heard, and I honestly couldn’t believe it. I looked up the lyrics to make sure I had heard right, and I looked up the songwriters. To my surprise (not really), they were all men.

The song begins with a salsa rhythm and with romantic lyrics sung by Victor Manuelle: “No existe forma correcta de amar, pero la quiero inventar. Solo un segundo y te voy a enamorar…”  (“There is no right way to love, but I want to invent it. Just one second, and I will conquer you…”). With this beginning, I thought the song would be cute and in someway relatable. Farruko goes on to say, “Y cuando se haga más tarde y aquí no quede nadie, todo lo que ahora son palabras, te voy a demostrar” (“As it gets late and there’s no one left, all of my words I will demonstrate”). After this the chorus begins, “Yo quiero amarte duro, hasta lo más puro, hasta que no pueda más, hasta que no tenga nada más que dar” (“I want to love you hard, the purest way I can, until I can’t anymore, until I have nothing more left to give”). This all sounds just like a romantic song, right?

 

However, this song isn’t romantic at all, this song is sexist, degrading, victimizing and just plain horrible. Around the middle of the song, Farruko says, “...y te voy a dar bien duro como Chris le daba a Rihanna” (“...and I’m going to hit you as hard as Chris hit Rihanna”). It came as such a huge shock to me when I heard this part because I honestly couldn’t and can’t believe that we’re in 2018 and lyrics like this are not only still approved, but also popularized.

 

I was able to interview and get a comment from Belen Martinez Cabello, a personal friend of Victor Manuelle and a very well known journalist and she said, “I’m very surprised that Victor Manuelle would record and film a song with such sexist and dirty lyrics. Knowing him, I’m sure that soon he will excuse himself from this error of judgment. I prefer to listen to him singing “Something’s happening to my hero” (“Algo le pasa a mi heroe”) which he dedicated to his dad who was an Alzheimer patient. Actually, now I’m asking myself, what happened to my hero? Because for me and many, Victor Manuelle is an example to the youth. I mean, he’s not a Farruko.”

On April 30, Victor Manuelle issued a formal apology across all social media. In his long message, he said:

“Those who know me know I am incapable of promoting any sort of violence, less domestic violence… In terms of the controversy with ‘Amarte Duro’, what called my attention towards it was the contradiction with its title… In terms of when it says ‘...and I’m going to hit you as hard as Chris hit Rihanna’, everyone knows they had a very intense relationship and it's making reference to their love before the incident… I’ve had to think and realize that the phrase had a double meaning and I probably didn’t realize it because it only had one meaning for me. To those who understood the phrase with bad intentions, I would like to apologize with generosity and a sense of responsibility. We are all human and we make mistakes. I take full blame.”

Then, he goes on to quote how his dad taught him to say sorry even when he didn’t do things with bad intentions.

This apology brings mixed feelings because although it’s nice that he took a step towards making the situation better, it doesn’t change what he did. Of course, as he said, supposedly he hadn’t realized the double meaning behind it and there could be many reasons for this. One, he didn’t want to realize it, he was just focusing on making a song with another famous singer so he could make his money. Two, and most importantly, he talks from a point of male privilege. When men don’t realize their power and privilege over others, these kinds of things happen. Also, if they wanted to make reference to Chris and Rihanna’s relationship before the violence, why didn’t they just do so without referring to the violence in the first place? Finally, I don’t find this to be a genuine apology, by the looks of how it's written. It seems like he’s only saying sorry because it caused controversy, not because he actually means it.

We already knew Farruko from reggaeton songs which already tended to be sexist, so this isn’t as surprising coming from him. But, just because Farruko has done this before, doesn’t excuse him from his actions. Since everyone is so used to Farrukos actions, he didn’t even present a formal apology. Victor Manuelle is an honored salsa singer and this wasn’t expected from him at all. Regardless, whether it was expected of them or not, why should it be expected in the first place? Why do we allow horrible, sexist, degrading, victimizing songs to be popular? It’s important to take a look back once in a while and realize that if we want things to change and we want equality, we can’t be promoting and popularizing sexist songs. What happened between Chris and Rihanna is not a laughing matter or a matter to be used by other celebrities to gain some sort of popularity. Domestic violence and any violence isn’t a joke and isn’t something to make money from.

 

(picture from cibercuba)

 

PSA: for those that don’t know what happened between Chris Brown and Rihanna click here